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Date: August 7th 1943
Mother & Dad - (Wilhelmina & John Gray)
Hampton Gray

RH Gray Lt, R.C.N.V.R.
Box 157,
c/o F.M.O., Kilindini,
Mombasa, B.E.A.
Aug. 7./43

Dear Mother and Dad,

It is Saturday evening and I have just got back from a swim at a place called Shanzu. Eight of us went in the back of a little Ford truck and had a grand time. The only trouble was that the tide was out and it was hard to get enough depth. all along the coast north of here there is a reef which runs parallel to the coast about half a mile out and the water stays at the same depth all the way out to that reef. However we swam and got some sun which will do us all good. The sun-tan we get here, by the way seems to be very superficial. You get very black very quickly but a few days with a shirt on and it is all gone again. The mail is still bad. Another week has gone with no letters but I live in hope. I did get one from Tibbetts. I don't know whether you have a picture of him but anyway you will remember me talking about him. He seems to have been something of a hero as he was mentioned in dispatches. He did not say where he got it but I have an idea that it was in the North African landings last December – I just asked and apparently I can tell you about a trip I had some time ago. It was a trip to Cairo and back. I cannot tell you anything about the trip except that it was very interesting indeed. I can tell you something about Cairo though. It is, to begin with, the most expensive place I have ever been to. It really was phenomenal. It was there that some of the chaps bought two pairs of stockings for £7. I tried around town to get a decent watch strap. I found a nice pigskin one (pigskin straps are the best for this climate because perspiration does not rot them). The shopkeeper wanted something like 5.50 for it which seemed to me just a bit too much. Of course, I didn't buy it. But in one way it is natural. Egypt is a country which is theoretically at peace. There are thousands of people spending their money there that did not do so before the war. I suppose the govt. sees no reason why a big profit should not be made. Still it is pretty tough on the soldier on leave who has not got very much money to have to pay such terrific prices for the things he needs. Still it was interesting to see the place. There was a Canadian club there which seemed to be mostly Air Force. I went there once to see if I could see anyone I knew but there wasn't anyone. I looked all through the registration book but didn't have any luck. We had about four days there and although it was a nice change I think we were all glad to leave. The trouble, I have found, with practically all the places I have been to since leaving Canada is that they are spoiled. They have had so many service people there that the people lose their enthusiasm. Prices go up and the places get badly overcrowded. It is really noones fault. It just happens that way. Still, as long as we are in the services the chances are that that type of place is the only type we are likely to see. – The war news is still pretty exciting – we seem to be doing very well every place. We reckon here that we should have Sicily in a couple of days and then I suppose we will start wondering (as Hitler is doing perhaps) "where next". The Russians are winning at the moment and the Americans have done well in the Solomans. The only bad thing is the drop in American production. I suppose we are all the same, inclined to slack off a bit when the going is good. It would be far better if people really went at it and took a rest when it is all over. Still "Its human nature" as they say. I shall have to dress for dinner now. Khaki shirt, khaki long trousers, brown shoes, sox and tie. Not very exciting.

Much love to you both,

Original Scans

Original Scans

Page 1 of WWII letter of 1943-08-07 from Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, DSC